Bicycle Justice League

Monday morning Cody and I took a ride to Fae Ridge Farm which is out near West Branch. This is the farm that made Ira the man he is. It is a wonderful place with lots of animals running and waddling about and great coffee, too! It is also the proud and humble home of the only Ira Ryan bicycle in Iowa. The bike had seen better days and Cody and I were there to put things right. With a flash of the 15mm the tardy wheel was off! Seconds later the tire and tube were free of the rim and Cody’s expert vision detected the trouble. A hole in the tube! A fresh tube sprang from my jersey pocket and was inflated with great industry to hold its shape before being carefully nestled back in its tire and mounted to its new home. Once more our mighty pump did hiss until the wheel was good as new. A second flashing of the 15mm saw the bike made whole again and with faithful farm dog at her side Janette did ride ride ride away! All in a days work for the Bicycle Justice League, watch for us wherever sidewalls are threatened or chains lack proper lubrication!

Then we drank coffee and talked about Ira because he did not accept our calls on his birthday.

In other BJL news fresh off the Senators desk:

Bicycle programs catching on in major cities
International Herald Tribune
By Kimberly Conniff Taber
Published: May 31, 2007

PARIS: As cities across Europe experiment with ways to get people out of their cars and into more eco-friendly modes of transportation, Paris is becoming a massive laboratory for one of the most innovative attempts to make money and help save the environment at the same time.
This summer, it will put 10,000 bicycles on the streets at 1,000 stations throughout the city – more than 20,000 bikes will be available by the end of the year – in an experiment with the potential to alter the city’s urban transportation landscape.
“Our hope is that this will change the mentality of people getting around Paris, ” said Céline Lepault, who directs the program for the Paris mayor’s office.
And the city will not pay a cent.
In fact, it will be making money from the project, to the tune of €34 million, or $46 million, over 10 years. And users of the service, called Vélib, will pay next to nothing: after a nominal subscription fee of €29 a year, the first half-hour of each trip will be free, and each additional half hour will cost €1.
The project is being financed by J.C. Decaux, the advertising firm, which will receive exclusive control over 1,628 urban billboards in exchange. The company landed the Paris contract after introducing a similar program in Lyon two years ago that became a success: it now has 50,000 subscribers and has doubled the number of bicycles to 4,000 for a population of 445,500. Paris has 2.15 million residents, a more lucrative consumer base for the program, which allows a rider to use a bike for a short period, ride it to another station and leave it for the next user.
Decaux’s motives are not purely altruistic. It says it stands to earn €60 million a year in advertising revenue from the billboards. After the initial costs of setting up the bicycle system (about €80 million) and subsequent operating costs, plus a €3.4 million annual payment for the rights to the public space it will be occupying with its billboards, Decaux will take home the rest as profit.
The initiative will also turn the company into a leading player in the market for citywide bike rental programs, which are spreading fast across Europe and beyond, with programs in Brussels, Dublin, Marseille, Vienna and a smattering of smaller cities.
In a sign of how competitive the market is becoming, Decaux won the contract after a fierce bidding war with Clear Channel, a U.S. communications company that had initially won the contract with a proposal for 14,000 bicycles. But after a court battle, the French firm nearly tripled its initial offer of 7,500 bicycles and won the contract.
By the time Decaux’s full fleet of 20,600 bicycles is on the road in Paris at the end of the year, city officials will be counting on at least 100,000 users – including car-owner converts. “Today there are a lot of people who use their cars for short trips that aren’t really justified,” said Lepault. “We’re hoping they’ll use bicycles instead.”
That is what has happened in Lyon, where bicycle traffic has increased 30 percent in the last two years and automobile use is down 4 percent, reversing a trend of a 1 percent to 3 percent increase per year, according to Jean-Louis Touraine, the city’s deputy mayor in charge of transportation.
Many people are combining bicycle use with public transportation when they would have previously hopped in their cars. “It’s changed the image of the city,” he said.
As for reducing pollution, Lyon has calculated that 3,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions have been saved since the inception of the program. Paris officials expect that the impact on air quality will be even more impressive.
Other cities are watching Paris with considerable interest as it rolls out the world’s largest bike rental program. Lepault says that she has received requests for information from Sevilla, Spain, to Rio de Janeiro, and there are reports that London and Sydney are considering similar projects.
Touraine said that in Lyon, “we’re finding a city that is more humane, more convivial, less dangerous, less stressful and less polluted.”

Convivial! I love that word! I am off duty now so I will read my book and then sleep the sleep of a man who knows how to ski.


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